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Monocoque materials

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While the monocoque of a modern Formula One car performs multiple functions, including aerodynamic performance and the provision of sufficient stiffness (combined with the powertrain and suspension) to ensure adequate traction and handling, its primary purpose is to protect the driver. To this end the Formula One technical regulations require chassis to pass a series of impact and intrusion tests before they can be used in competition. This requirement was first introduced in the...

Carbon and its fibre composites

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In providing the physical contact points with the track surface, the ‘corners’ of a Formula One racecar –the wheels, brakes, uprights and suspension – could be argued to perform the most important function of all. Reacting forces induced by tyre traction, the generation of aerodynamic downforce, deceleration and acceleration make these elements among the most highly stressed in the overall car package. Like every other aspect of a racecar design, these areas are...

Not composite yet

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Carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites first found their way into Formula One during the mid-1970s; however their full potential was not universally recognised until 1981 when John Barnard pioneered the carbon fibre monocoque with the McLaren MP4/1. After John Watson’s crash at Monza that season silenced sceptics’ concerns over structural integrity during impact, all Formula One teams followed suit, developing their own composite monocoques. The carbon fibre revolution...

Drivers’ bias towards the brakes

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Over recent years a niche solution used by a few drivers has become a standard feature on all Formula One cars – the rapid bias adjustment lever. Adjustable brake bias has been a feature of racecars and Formula One for decades, but until recently, the driver’s control of brake bias was not commonly seen as a means for improving overall lap times. Drivers have been able to adapt the braking bias from front to rear throughout the race, to compensate for changing conditions. This...

Formula One’s new powertrain control

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2013 will bring in a new ECU to control the Formula One powertrains. Provided to all teams via McLaren Electronic Systems, the TAG-320 is the first step towards the major change in powertrain rules for 2014. As a method of controlling costs and driver aids, the FIA elected to introduce a Single ECU (SECU) supplier into Formula One in 2006. With suppliers invited to bid for the contract, it was McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) who won the tender process; MES duly introduced its TAG-310B...